In an interval between July’s king tides, a stalwart band of volunteers ventured out into the wet and boggy South Richmond Shoreline near the mouth of Meeker Slough to pick up hundreds of pounds of trash that had accumulated amongst the California native shore plants. The work party was organized by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), whose dedicated rangers came out with supplies, good cheer, and a few new and eager volunteers.
This section of the Bay shoreline is a precious habitat that includes Pacific cordgrass (Spartina foliosa), pickleweed (Salicornia pacifica), California dodder (Cuscuta californica), alkali heath (Frankenia salina), marsh jaumea (Jaumea carnosa), California sea lavender (Limonium californicum), sticky sand spurry (Spergularia macrotheca), coastal gumweed (Grindelia stricta), and salt grass (Distichlis spicata). To protect these important plants, Greens at Work clambered down the riprap earlier in the month and removed the Algerian lavender (Limonium ramosissimum, a.k.a. LIRA) and Russian thistle (Salsola soda) that were growing in this section of the Bay edge. We pulled out a little more Russian thistle at the EBRPD event.
By the end of the morning, the volunteers had pulled out seven huge garbage bags of trash, all of which were transported to the dump by EBRPD’s rangers. A number of us reported collecting innumerable plastic bottle caps, plastic straws, and Styrofoam cups, seemingly the most prevalent debris items.
In the slightly elevated areas closer to the riprap, we found soggy blankets, shoes, clothing, backpacks, countless plastic bags, bottles, junk food bags, reading glasses, toys, and more. At the previous Greens at Work event, we had removed two wet and heavy mattresses, hundreds of pounds of wood, and another seven garbage bags of trash.
We spent the morning in the company of a beautiful scoop of white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) that appeared to be meditating close to the edge of the Bay. Could a single “om” have been their mantra or was it more like “om‑chovy”? We were also graced with several squadrons of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) flying overhead and splashing down into the water. The Bay has been teeming with these two pelican species over the past few weeks. During the work party, there was so much fish in the Bay, the pelicans simply sat in the water and scooped up their lunches. It is a heart-lifting experience to be anywhere near these majestic birds.
With many thanks to EBRPD for organizing this work party, the crew set off happy with the debris-free view of this small (and healthier) section of the South Richmond Shoreline.
If you would like to participate in shoreline cleanup and invasive plant removal efforts, here are two groups that offer opportunities for volunteers:
— Jane and Tom Kelly, Greens at Work